I’m excited to share with you all my favorite series so far this year — the Clueless Cook Mysteries by Liz Lipperman. Yes, the year is still new — but this series is going to be hard to top. Liz’s main character is Jordan McAllister — sports writer thrown into the position of writing a culinary column for The Ranchero Globe. Jordan first took the position of writing the personals for the globe, after a disastrous move to the area. She had to take what she could get — no way was she returning home with her tail between her legs after her college boyfriend dumped her for the weather girl.
Unfortunately, Jordan can’t cook and doesn’t know the first thing about fine dining. But, her friends wont let that hold her up from proving herself at The Globe. They band together and make sure she always has recipes to publish, even though the recipes are often casseroles that have been renamed in French or Spanish to sound more gourmet. The ruse works, and Jordan’s column is a quick hit… but she can’t seem to shake the pattern of murders happening with each of her assignments.
Throughout the series, Jordan’s character really develops and she becomes a strong & stubborn person — someone I can really relate to. So many cozy mystery series have female leads that lean heavily on their significant others — that’s not the case with Jordan, she’s definitely functional on her own. I also really fell in love with her neighbors and close friends from the Empire Apartments. Liz doesn’t shy away from developing the secondary & plot specific characters like so many authors often do. The Empire Apartments gang include an aging hippie who’s been married four and a half times, a psychic and her partner –a retired cop, and the building’s owners — a hilarious same-sex couple — Michael & Victor. Not your standard cast of characters — but they’re definitely an awesome bunch!
So far there are three books in the series — each with a great pun for the title!
- Liver Let Die – 4.5/5 stars
Newly promoted to filling in for the culinary columnist, Jordan finds herself reviewing a restaurant’s grand-reopening. The hitch – it’s draw is their prime rib, and Jordan has a strong aversion to red meat. At the waiter’s suggestion, she orders the foiré gros — without knowing the inhuman process to making the delicacy. Soon after publishing her exposé about the force fed ducks, the waiter who served her turns up dead outside her apartment — and Jordan is the prime suspect.
The plot & characters were surprisingly well-developed for an introduction to a new series, I was very impressed! I just didn’t care for a few plot/character details. See my full review on Goodreads.
- Beef Stolen-Off – 5/5 stars
Jordan’s been wrangled in to attending the Cattleman’s Ball, a fundraiser put on by the local cattle baron. When his right hand man, and Jordan’s date, dies at the ball — Jordan feels it’s her duty to solve the murder. When her brother shows up on her doorstep to crash while he investigates local cattle rustling, they combine heads to solve both cases.
I throughly enjoyed this book! I continued to fall in love with all the characters, and I really enjoyed the subplot and how it intertwined with the main plot. See my full review on Goodreads.
- Murder for the Halibut – 5/5 stars
Jordan and her friends from Empire Apartments get the opportunity for a free Caribbean cruise in exchange for playing various roles in a cook-off contest put on by Michael’s radio station and Jordan’s newspaper. When one of the contestants dies during the first round, Jordan and her friends once again stick their noses into the investigation.
Once again Liz impressed me with her amazing attention to developing the plot-specific characters and keeping the reader guessing until the end! She also impressed me with how much she researched the going-ons of a cruise. See my full review on Goodreads.
Liz does an amazing job with her plots — dropping just enough clues for the reader to develop their own theory, but not enough to convince them that their theory is infallible. In my opinion, that’s what makes a great cozy mystery. Add in Liz’s great characters, and you have a solid 5 out of 5 stars for the series.
I have a historical cozy mystery series coming up next, and then a cozy suspense series that was my favorite series in 2012! Feel free to add me on Goodreads — I would love to connect with some fellow cozy addicts and series binge readers 😉
I received Murder for the Halibut from the publisher for free, which did not influence my opinion in my review.